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                                              Junious Ricardo Stanton

                                               Universal Basic Income

 

“Universal basic income (UBI) is a model for providing all citizens of a country or other geographic area with a given sum of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status. The purpose of the UBI is to prevent or reduce poverty and increase equality among citizens. UBI is also known simply as basic income. According to the advocacy group Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), the essential principle behind basic income is the idea that all citizens are entitled to a livable income, whether or not they contribute to production and despite the particular circumstances into which they are born.” http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/universal-basic-income-UBI

 

      Due to the rapid advances and application of technology, labor as we know it is changing. With the increased uses of robotics, animation and Artificial Intelligence, physical labor and intellectual skills labor will take totally new forms not in the distant future but immediately. Many futurists and thinkers realize we are on the cusp of a quantum shift in work, industry, technology, lifestyle and economics.  People like inventor, entrepreneur, CEO and futurist Elon Musk and Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes are saying society needs to prepare for the approaching phase out and outright elimination of work as we presently know it and provide for people who have been displaced by technology.

     At the 2017 World Government Summit in Dubai Elon Musk said, “I think we'll end up doing universal basic income, it’s going to be necessary. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better. I want to be clear, these are not things I wish will happen; these are things I think probably will happen. With automation, there will come abundance. Almost everything will get very cheap.”

     He also said some form of merger between humans and computers is in the offing. “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence. It's mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output… Some high bandwidth interface to the brain will be something that helps achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem” This is what is being contemplated by some of the driving minds of our time. When (not if) it materializes, most people will not be prepared.

      The more immediate loss of job opportunities due to technology will cause major social disruption especially in the so called developed world although some futurists believe it will impact the so called developing world just as severely. An article on the Futurism.com Website https://futurism.com/images/universal-basic-income-answer-automation/ includes a chart detailing the impact of robotics and automation around the world. I highly recommend you read this article to get an idea just how pervasive and disruptive the new technologies of Artificial Intelligence, robotics and automation are becoming and will be even more so in the near future.

      The article mentions the countries such as Finland, Kenya, Switzerland and Netherlands that are considering, planning for or actually implementing some form of Universal Basic Income. Go to www.basicincome.com and see what they are saying. The devastating impact of disruptive technology is not just the concern of futurists. A March 9, 2018 Gallup Poll reveals more Americans fear being displaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI), robots and automation than they do immigrants or off shoring. http://news.gallup.com/poll/228923/seen-greater-job-threat-immigrat.... This is a huge revelation, it means contrary to what many may think there are Americans who know what is happening in the world and they are fearful about their future. Rightly so, because the mindset and historical pattern of capitalists is to find and implement the cheapest labor and lowest production costs (e.g. slavery, automation) possible. This is not going to change. So the anxiety revealed in the Gallop Poll is understandable. But what would UBI look like in the US?

      On the flip side, the 1% is worrying how the masses will respond to these seismic socio-economic shifts. They are wondering which options Joe and Jane Sixpack will choose; will they take the torches and pitchfork route or will they continue to passively submit to their fate? The 1%’s solution in addition to pacification via the mass media and police state coercion is Universal Basic Income.

      Their immediate problem is how to sell and implement it because both US political parties have dogged welfare since the 1960’s and they are adamantly opposed to reparations for Africans; so now they have to come up with a new marketing tool to generate consensus to sell UBI. Notice in none of the discussions is cost averse nor is how it will be paid for a major issue. I suspect it is because the 1% fear the torch and pitchfork option.

       Here are a few Websites that address this issue, please peruse them to get a better idea of the scope of this issue because it will be one of the major topics of discussion in the coming years: http://evonomics.com/how-to-pay-for-universal-basic-income/, https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/06/04/of-course-we-ca..., http://basicincome.org/basic-income/faq/

 

                                                   -30-

 

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